Hello, dear readers! Today I’m going to share with you this long post. I thought about writing it or not, about talking of such topic, but in the end… why not? Two things can happen: people are going to harass me or are going to learn few things.
As usual, I want to state that:
- this is a special post. I don’t them all the time and this is a huge step form me. Hopefully not a massive failure.
- this post is not made to educate you about the asexual and aromantic spectrum (or a-spec). Kind of. For sure is gonna educate some of you but I see it more as informing people of what is happening
- you shouldn’t take all my words as 100% “sure and perfection”. I’m just reporting what happened, what I learn and my personal experience.
- also, you should consider that I identify myself as ace. I prefer this term because I’ve always saw it as something open to the whole a-spec. I’m still on figuring out my exact place in the spectrum, if I’m aromantic or not… So, in this post I will refer to the a-spec, including aromantic and ace people in the narrative. I don’t know if I’m gonna succeed at the best. So, feel free to correct me if you feel the need to add or correct.
TW: I will write down heavy amisic/aphobic events, treats of violence included.
One thing worth highlighting is that there big difference between the italian community and the more “international” one. On the Italian side the a-spec is still not well know, and only now ace/aro people are gaining place of representation in lgbt+ association and such. Still, many and many articles online are badly written. Let’s say that I would never suggest anyone to inform themself about the a-spec using Italian articles.
Another boring thing is that many times, the term asexual get translated as asessuato, which indicate the lack of sexual organs. Between people getting things wrong, because it’s also a translation issue (asessuato in English is, in fact, asexual), people being wilfully ignorant and hateful people, asessuato became what I can call an italian slur for asexual.
My constant mood every time I deal with the italian community over delicate matters
The activistm’s situation in the Italian community is… pure sh*t. Where you can count on a person for one thing, be sure that they’re gonna expose some kinda of ableism, racism and phobia in other arguments.
At the end of the Pride Month, my identity got trashed even by a big activist association. One was even nominated as the best lgbt+ sites. But that’s common occasion and all the voices by a-spectrum people went derailed and deleted like they never existed.
Aside from this common events, there’s a major lack of inclusive language or understanding of some complicated but important dynamics used to exclude asexual and aromantic people from the narrative. Now, the majority of those arguments don’t even consider aromantic people, but usually jump on asexual people. Meaning that many of the arguments I’m going to bring on this post may touch aromantic people but I’ve saw them being used mostly against people in the asexual spectrum. I will use to term a-spectrum, because some issue may be common but there are for sure some dynamics I did not encounter that target specifically aromantic people.
What can be done?
Now, I’m going to talk about both the Italian and the international situation. Because while in my country there’s a common ignorance about inclusive language, international people usually refuse to adopt such language. Mostly because their amisic and aromisic.
First of all, I need to address for a few lines that there are great problems in the a-spec community in Italy. I joined a Facebook group and noticed:
- misogynistic and internalized hate reactions when a-spectrum women expressed to be hurt by the way allosexual people treated them. (Allosexual are people who experience sexual attraction. Alloromantic is for people who experience romantic attraction). The women were bashed as demoziner of sex and allosexual people were described in a similar way to the one used to justify men misogynist behaviour (“They can help it. It’s their nature”).
- Many and many a-spectrum people who still have deep problems about using words such as asexual. Or show little knowledge of the community itself. This is true especially for older people. Or younger people, but usually they also show a certain amount of internalized hate.
- Even inside the a-spectrum community, many think that there no bridge between the allos and the a-spectrum: a-spectrum people should favoring the allos needs over their own. THIS IS NOT HOW A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WORK.
I’ve many feels for the a-spec community too. And that’s my constant look
Also, specifically in Italy, thanks to heavy religious backgrounds, is not the first time that a-spec people get portrayed by religion as a reason behind human extinction (because for them a-spec=no sex) but is also used by amisic lgbt+ movements by comparing it to religious chastity. Also, such concept get twisted again when the a-spec supposed meaning of being chaste, is portrayed as no more than the same form of hate and bigotry religious movements use against lgbt+ people. Yeah, it’s messy.
First of all, facing amisic people in Italy, but also quite a bit internationally too, I noticed this: there’s a major lack of understanding of what the a-spectrum mean. People generally don’t even know of aromantic people, and just talk about asexuality. Sometimes they know the basic definition, while for others is “people who don’t have sex”. Which might be true for some people in the a-spectrum (me included) but is also a big generalization. Talking to also well-intentioned allosexual/romantic people, I noticed that there’s a major lack of understanding about the types and the levels of attractions. They cannot work out the idea that people don’t function in one single way and this also lead to “a-spec = no form of affection”.
Honestly, sometimes allo people worry me.
From this, I saw people decline the a-spec as a secondary identity. Many allo lgbt+ people used a-spectrum romantic attractions as way to erase their identity, saying that: “oh, but in reality they are *insert allo lgb identity*”. This imply that the a-spec doesn’t really exist, but also that is an accessory. Some a-spec people may feel this part of their identity as secondary and identify more in another label. For others can have the same importance or even be their primary identity (like in my case). And they’re all valid. Also, such affirmation may imply that once you use a label, you can be only that. Might work for some people, but for other is not a truth. Forcing some in a box where they cannot discover more of themself when they need, is completely toxic.
Me faking to be happy and positive despite being beyond salty about the topic.
The opposition that a-spec people face is not only invalidating, but can be also really aggressive. And actually, more than facing allocishet (allosexual/romantic cisgender heterosexual) people, my Pride Month was full of a-spectrum people clashing with the lgbt+ community. That’s a reason why I always get a wrong feeling when in Italy we still use the term aphobia for describing this. I’ve still have to see a single person scared by a-spectrum people, while actually thriving in the possibility of shutting them and chase them away. During the Pride Month, a-spectrum people got the usual treatment along with more threats. Like the invite of going to a Pride event so they could shot them. Also, I noticed that violence is often used as a threat to gatekeep a-spectrum people. There are cases in which the violence got physical and real but since I want to protect some people privacy, so I will no dwell on it. It just happened.
Is also a quite common event that a-spectrum people get trashed at the first occasion. I can quote two events, related to a chocolate bar and an Oreo campaign. Both showed many flags but the lesbian flag was omitted. Despite how things ended up (meaning the add or not of the lesbian flag), the right protest against erasure started to get amisic as soon as people pointed out the presence of the asexual flag. This went on implying that the flag shouldn’t have been there and the amisc stuff evolved.
The contrast can go on for days, including the clash many a-spectrum people have with the rest of the community over the use of “love is love” as an umbrella for representing all queer people. I think is a really interesting concept but this long discourse require its own post. It’s worth give a try and follow some a-spectrum people to get more informed about the discussion and why actually “love is love” doesn’t mean inclusion or representation at 100%.
There are some common discourse used to gatekeep and shut down a-spectrum voices. One of the first is about oppression and discrimination, meaning that a-spectrum people cannot face them. This can also assume that the lack of such events qualify people as not queer or part of the community. This is wrong on at least three points:
- There’s no such a thing as “enough queer”. It’s not a test. Not even everyone likes the label queer. There are not a series of fixed negative or positive experiences that determinate who is part of something or not. It’s the identity itself, personal identity, gender and orientation that can determinate it, at least. With or without a determinate baggage of facing discrimination.
- The community was created to protect against oppression and discrimination, but is also a matter or representation. Also, the term queer itself doesn’t indicate only the first letter of the acronym but is a much more vast definition and also a reclaimed slur. Anyway, postive or negative to the idea of !queer”, the community should represent orientation and gender than differs from the normativity. It should be safe place where people can fight for their right of being affirmed and recognized as much as protests against the wrongness and uplift each other voices with respect.
- If we really want to insist on the discriminations factors, a-spectrum people face discrimination and oppression (from the “basic” dehumanization to rape), but when they talk about that, they usually get accused of lying and wanting to invade the community. Or they get mocked with “you want to much to be oppressed lol”.
Many words were created to identify particular form of discrimination that afflict only people under a determinate label. There’s a reason behind them, there is a list of what generally happens to people under such label. It’s not a confused mix but something specific. Therefore, not all form of discrimination works in the same way. Also, some a-spectrum people may have identity that overlaps with other and also face other kind of oppression.
Another way in which a-spectrum people protest get shut down, is that all the discriminations aren’t form of hate against them, but actually it’s misogyny. Aside from really f*cked up implication about genders, is also speak volume about how people think is impossible to be a target just for being inside the a-spectrum. Which I personally know is an utter bullsh*t. I’ve still have to see someone that hate my identity, targeting me for being a woman instead of primarily focusing on my a-spectrum.
During the time, I started to be more attentive about how people used their words. Most common and basic example of how to make your language more inclusive could be adding the “+” at the end of the acronym. Lgbt value only for the four letters. Is not an umbrella for everyone else and it speaks a lot about your activism. Just including a little “+”, or even using the most open lgbtqiap+, is definitely better. People sometimes do it without malicious intents, while other choose to omit some letters.
Still on the acronym matter, a huge discussion is born around the famous A: how it stands for ally (people who aren’t part of the community but support it) or people in the a-spectrum. Plus agender people too. Comparing and putting allies and a-spec people together is a damaging act. It nullify the concept of ally. An ally shouldn’t just be the allocishet ally. First of all, the latter should understand that their role is to lift up other people voices. They should walk at our side but not on our lane, taking our place. I’ve lost count of the times when an ally, on their own terms or a well-intentioned one, spread hurtful information and erased tons of people (sometimes supported by phobic people inside the community). Only for their word to be trusted by allocishet people who knew little or nothing about the community, and then went on with such notions, imposing them as the major truth and putting in a corner lgbt+ people.
Also, allies aren’t only the “straight allies”. Inside the community people should be allies to each other. Being an ally is not an identity: it’s something we do, it’s the way we act to support other people. Also, it fuel the idea that a-spectrum and ally can be lump together, that there’s actually no such big difference, because that’s how people perceive it. Let’s put aside the fact that sometimes the a-spectrum is not even nominated. And the concept about spreading hurtful information can be said even within the community. This can be also strictly related to allies, that see some people inside the community as more valid, trustworthy and legit than other. Or: never care to check if such people are actually hurtful towards others.
How we should be towards each other but sometimes we’re not.
Ulterior motives of why the A should stick to the a-spectrum people is about how many times a-spectrum people get called and labeled the same as allocishet by other people inside the community. Now, I don’t want to spend many words on a-spectrum people who want to gatekeep herotomantic/sexual ace/aro, because the level of trash goes really high, but a special section should be focused and why the use of cishet is usually a way to excluded the a-spec from community arguments.
Things will get really complicated here, so try to follow me. Cishet usually indicate cisgender heterosexual people, but is also used a way to indicate people who aren’t part of the community. Soon, a-spectrum people got lumped along the term cishet (where it actually started, I’ve no idea). When such attitude got pointed out, asking for people to use the more inclusive term of allocishet, the answer were… a masterpiece of “please, just admit you’re amisic. I beg you”.
One of these was that the a-spectrum people had the straight privilege, since they could always pass for heterosexual. This is not only hurtful for the a-spectrum but for every queer person that may appear to fit inside the heterosexual/romantic normativity. Also, it showed how little people considered the fact that every a-spectrum is not the same, erasing many identity in one single blow. Plus denying all the arguments written above, also used to answer such question. And ignoring the fact that society itself is rarely friendly to a-spectrum people. It’s not set on them and doesn’t like it’s going to open up for them anytime soon.
Ulterior answer is that “asexual are heterosexual”. Yes, just like you read it. I hope I don’t have to explain it. Because I don’t think I can. And again no one know that aromantic people exist. The core is that no matter what, these people will never see a-spectrum as something valid. They don’t care for explanations, for the shades, for challenging a bit their own conception of sexuality, romanticism and such. The major sentiment is that a-spectrum people are invaders that should create their own community. Or simply: they’re not a thing. Amisic and aromisic people will always try to sugarcoat their own precedent hurtful words with a form of sympathy.
It shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept that this will break the a-spectrum community (some people will always want to be part of the lgbt+ community) and how a-spectrum voices will take ages and ages before reaching the light. And still after that, there would be a long path ahead to be recognized as valid and human. It’s no more than starting from zero again when just now a-spectrum people are getting little recognition and tons of disrepect.